Here we are, this is now offically the last week of my mission and last week was my last week in Bayonne. It was a very interesting week and full of different emotions, good as well as sad. I am having an incredibly difficult time wrapping my mind around the idea that this is the end and that my life as a missionary is coming to a close. I wish that I had prepared a nice letter with my emotions and my feelings but there is quite simply not enough time (I still have to pack all of my bags before I leave tomorrow morning to take the train :/...) That shows you how little time we actually have.
This week I was able to spend a lot of time with members and really learn about who they are. Their conversions, their stories, their family lives, their testimonies. That is what all of this is about. Being on a mission is all about people. It isn't numbers, it isn't the best contacter, the best baptizer, it isn't about bringing the love and joy of our Savior to everyone that we can. There are some true pioneers here in France. Some people that are the strongest members I have ever met with some of the strongest testimonies. What these people have endured sometimes as members of the church is incredible. These people have to have super strong testimonies or else they would be washed away with the slightest of things. I truly believe that the Lord really watches over his members and definitely here in France.
To be rounding the corner of two years in serving the Lord, you feel like you did a lot but that it wasn't near enough. Even to serve a mission for an entire lifetime, you continue to learn, to progress, to become better, to struggle, to fight to keep going, always always. I cannot say that this was easy or even that it was always fun, but it was worth it. Every problem, every deception, every struggle, every mountain climbed, added to my growth and my understanding of myself.
I have no idea what will come in the coming weeks, months or years but I know that these two years have been the most influential in my life and will continue to have an impact on me forever. I must thank you all for the love and the concern you have all had for me. I love you all and appreciate you all. I cannot wait to see you all and I will officially be home on the 13th of August. So I look forward to seeing you all. Have a great week and know that I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer. If you turn towards Him, you will be guided and strengthened, I promise you. Have a wonderful week and never forget your blessings! ;)
Elder Ethan Kirkpatrick